Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hard Knox Pale Ale - Tasting

While San Francisco has a lot of great micro-breweries, they're all on the other side of the hill(s). So we have started a quest to find craft beer in the Richmond District.

We were also hoping to find something a little less obvious (everyone knows the 540 Club has a great beer selection). During our research, we discovered that Hard Knox Cafe is serving up their own house brew!

This was exactly what we had in mind. It was definitely news to us. We went to check it out.

Hard Knox Pale Ale:

It's sweet, perhaps a bit of honey, definitely some caramel notes, very light hops, and light bodied.

Some described it as "liquid corn bread." It did have a buttery flavor.

This beer is apparently at a commercial brewery but the recipe is theirs.

It did compliment the southern homestyle food, but more hops would have stood up to the spicy fried chicken.

So, next time your out our way, be sure to try Hard Knox Cafe Pale Ale.  Get a pitcher!

homebrew, dining-out, Richmond District

Sunday, March 13, 2011


For a friend's birthday last weekend, we went to Speisekammer in Alameda.

The outdoor "garden" seating definitely contributed to the fun atmosphere of the event (not to imply that with all the beer had, we needed help creating the right atmosphere). The service was great and I was impressed by the variety of German beers... and beer sizes.

I admit that I stuck in the .3 liter size because I wanted to survey the selection. They also offer a standard .5 liter glass.

The birthday boy, however, opted for 1 liter "boots"–pictured above. Boots also come in 2 liters as well.

Go on a sunny day.  I hear that we'll be having one some day.  I also recommend that you come willing to make friends of passers-by.

beer garden, Alameda

Monday, February 14, 2011

SF Beer Week: Breweries of Tomorrow

A balcony view of the full house at the Breweries of Tomorrow Nanobrewery Festival at Social Kitchen on Sunday.

I was looking forward to the opportunity to try beers of the smaller outfits and meet some of the brewers we've been following since we got into beer making.

I had no idea this event would be so well attended.  The photos show the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd at the bar, but the balcony was just as packed and there were just as many people waiting outside for their chance to get in.  Even when we left two hours after the doors opened, there was still a line scores deep.

I know it's early in beer week, but this event is going to be tough to beat.  These beers are special to me because these folks brew with heart, and they do it for the love of the art.  I know some of them have great aspirations, and many of the brewers represented at this event are going to become names you'll hear a lot but whether they become bigger or they stay small there's no denying that it takes a major commitment to move beyond the homebrew scale and try to reach a larger audience.

My hat is tipped to these intrepid souls. Keep it up, and congratulations on making it this far.

SF Beer Week

Sunday, February 13, 2011

SF Beer Week -- Beer-unch

Here's a culinary conundrum.  What do you do when you have 2-3 pounds of fresh oranges and some leftover brown ale that didn't quite make it into the conditioning tank?  Make a beer-unch.

With some other ingredients on hand, we whipped together some beer-mosas with the freshly squeezed orange juice and our pseudo-lager.  We saved a bit of the brown ale that we put into the conditioning tank yesterday to sample and we added that to the pancake batter in place of milk.

The beer-mosa were light and refreshing.  Just as good as the mimosas.  We would definitely do this again in a pinch if we don't have a bottle of bubbly on hand.

As for the pancakes, there was some great nutty flavor due to the brown ale.  The batter was thicker than usual, but that was probably due to the ale reacting with the baking powder in the Bisquick.  But the pancakes turned out fluffy and light.

Give it a shot and try it on a Sunday brunch -- you'll be surprised that beer's a great addition to your breakfast favorites!


1/2 beer of your choice
1/2 OJ, freshly squeezed preferred

Brown Ale Pancakes
1 c. Bisquick
1 egg
3/4 c. brown ale
1 tbsp. agave syrup

SF Beer Week, mimosa, homebrew, brunch

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Kicking off SF Beer

What is more American than apple pie?  A shot and a beer.  While it is the case that beer takes a back seat as a chaser for your selection of spirit - bourbon, whisk(e)y or tequila, but it's SF Beer week, so it's time for the beer to shine.

For the entire SF Beer Week, Elixir is featuring beer and shot pairings.  What better way to start SF Beer week with a shot of Elixir's hand-picked single barrel of Buffalo Trace bourbon alongside the bartender's choice of beer to pair.  It's OK to say that your beer will complement, or might even outshine your shot.

SF Beer Week

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cider In Bottle

This weekend we attempted our second batch of cider–I am quickly becoming a convert–in addition to a brown ale.  We've heard some descriptions of fermenting the cider directly in the bottle in which it comes and we thought that it would be a good idea to give it a try.

We planned to do about 3 gallons in the carboy and through a bizarre mixup we ended up with 6 half-gallon bottles (rather than 3 one-gallon bottles).  This worked out well for us, in spite of a little extra plastic-bottle waste.  All but one of the bottles ended up in the carboy. The remaining bottle became our test subject.

We opened the bottle, poured out a little cider (to provide some air and make room for the yeast to do its work).  To the bottle we added about 1 gram of dry wine yeast and a tablespoon or so of lemon juice.

We had a stopper that fit the opening of the bottle perfectly, but some folks recommend covering it with sanitized aluminum foil.  That might do if you don't happen to have a stopper and an airlock.

Cider is already very easy to prepare, and ferments very quickly but the prospect of success with such a low-tech system holds the promise of sparing me from any more dry days.

We got both batches of cider pitched right around 3:00pm on Sunday, and that little bottle is bubbling quite a bit just about 30 hours later.

Tuesday or Wednesday we'll seal it back up and stick it in the refrigerator and it should be ready to drink.

homebrew, cider

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

SF Beer Week 2011 Part 2

With SF Beer Week about a week away, here's our top pick of admission free events for each night:

Fri, Feb 11 - Speakeasy & Ninkasi Mixer @ Toronado, 10pm - 1am
Sat, Feb 12 - Deadguy night @ Rogue, 5pm - 2pm
Sun, Feb 13 - Brewery night, Local Brewing Co. @ Pi Bar, 3pm - 11:30pm
Mon, Feb 14 - Non-Valentine Night Beer Dinner @ Magnolia, Starting at 6pm
Tue, Feb 15 - Frickin Firkin Tuesday @ Monk's Kettle, 5pm - 11pm
Wed, Feb 16 - Imperial Stout Night @ Amsterdam, 7pm - 10pm
Thu, Feb 17 - Lagunitas/Deschutes @ 540 Club, 6pm - 2am
Fri, Feb 18 - Barleywine Night @ Amsterdam, 6pm - 11pm
Sat, Feb 19 - Strange brew; Beer trivia/Movie Night @ Park Chalet, 7pm -11pm
Sun, Feb 20 - Brewer's Sunday Tea @ 21st Amendment, 10am - 2pm

Hope to see you at one of these events!